Sony Ericsson today unveiled its highly-anticipated Xperia Play, a crossover PlayStation phone, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, along with non-gaming Neo and Pro devices, as part of its new push to revive sagging sales.
The Swedish-Japanese joint venture said the Play can access its “PlayStation Suite,” an initiative to deliver a rich, vibrant titles from top publishers, such as Electronic Art’s “Need For Speed,” “Sims 3″ and “FIFA 10,” and Gameloft’s “Assassin’s Creed” and “Splinter Cell.” It features slide-out controls similar to those on the PlayStation Portable, including a digital D-pad, two analog touch pads, two shoulder buttons and iconic four-icon circle, cross, square and triangle keys.
The Play, which is first attempt to combine gaming and mobile technology after Nokia’s failed N-Gage device in 2003, will take on Microsoft’s Xbox Live, available on Windows Phone 7 products.
“The Play will be much better than Nokia’s old N-Gage,” said Bert Nordberg, Sony Ericsson’s chief executive. “Since N-Gage was launched, technology has improved a lot and that will make gaming much more fun. For example, chipsets and graphics are much better now.”
Sony Ericsson will release the Play for Verizon in the spring, a few months earlier than Nintendo’s Next Generation Portable, or NGP, console. The company said details on pricing will be announced at a later time.
The company also introduced the Xperia Neo and Pro, two Android-based devices. It plans to release at least eight Android phones this year. Both models will go on sale in early April.
“The Xperia Play will forever change the way people think about smartphones and mobile gaming,” said Rikko Sakaguchi, Sony Ericsson’s chief creation officer.
Sony Ericsson has struggled after failing to transition from camera and music phones to more robust smartphones. In stark contrast to Apple and Google, the company, now the world’s fifth-largest handset maker, has dumped Symbian, fired employees and cut back models to restructure its business for high-end devices.
Its previous flagship phone, the X10, was announced back in November of 2009, before being released almost a year later in the spring of 2010.
Sony Ericsson is developing Android devices, hoping to achieve the same success that other struggling manufacturers, like Motorola, has used to revitalize their businesses. The Xperia Play, Neo and Pro now joins the Xperia Arc, an Android-based “curved” device with an 8.0-megapixel camera, announced a few weeks ago.